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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Water Polo Second in heartland, Nationals Next


On Sunday, Oct. 23 the Grinnell Men’s Water Polo team placed second in the Heartland Division finals, qualifying them for the Division III Club Championships at Hamilton College in, NY on Nov. 5-6.

The Wild Turkeys do not follow the traditional norms of a college sport’s team. As a club team, they do not play in the Midwest Conference, but in the Heartland Division, which consists of familiar teams such as Monmouth and Knox College and also teams such as St. Mary’s University and Augustana College.

The road to Nationals resulted in a 7-4 regular season record, which earned them the third place seed at the Division Championship tournament.

“We had to get second, at least, [at finals] to go to Nationals,” Team Co-Captain Beck Ringdahl-Mayland ’13 said.

“[This year the team’s goals were to] win the Heartland Conference and go to Nationals, [and to] place high at Nationals.” Team Co-Captain Sam Sherwood ’12 said.

One stumbling block for the Wild Turkeys this season was Monmouth College.

“We played them three times. We lost each time,” Sherwood said. “They beat us real bad in the first quarter then [they] would go defensive for the last 3 quarters, and we couldn’t stop them.”

Placing first in the finals and regular season of the Heartland Conference, Monmouth also qualified for the trip to Clinton.

“We’re seeded seventh which is nice because we’ll be on a separate side of the bracket than Monmouth. Ideally we’d like to end up in the finals against them and play them again,” Ringdah-Mayland said. “Even more ideally, they [Monmouth] get knocked out by Tufts [University] in their semi-final match.”

“We play NYU in the first game, then the winner in the North Atlantic [Region],” Sherwood said. “We want to go to the National Championship and play Monmouth again.”

Just qualifying for the national tournament is a big feat for Grinnell. Many of The Wild Turkey’s players had little to no experience playing water polo previous to arriving at college.

“My first two years here our starters were all people who had played multiple years in high school and earlier.” Sherwood said. “We had six starters that had played in high school my first year, six starters the next year, and this year we have two– and we’re still really successful.”

“I had never played water polo before [college]. There are people on the Monmouth team that played all together through high school, now the same college,” Ringdahl-Mayland said. “They’ve been effectively playing together for eight years, if not more, and we can still hang with them, which I think is a pretty sweet thing.”

“I think that it’s awesome to see players that have grown, and a testament to the captains before, teaching these kids how to play,” Sherwood said. “It’s really fun to watch.”

The Wild Turkeys have found incoming members Donald Dean ’15, Austin Cote ’15 very useful. Both had previous experience playing the sport.

“I think this is the first year in a while that we had first years who had played previously,” Ringdahl-Mayland said.

The Wild Turkeys are a predominantly male team; however, women are also allowed to play in this portion of the season.  Women contributors include Sara Hanneman ’14, Kristina De La Torre ’14 and Riley Mangan ’15.

However, due to insufficient funds, only a portion of the team will be allowed to travel to the national competition.

The team plans to build on past successes reached at the national level.

“Last time we were at nationals, we lost in our first match,” Ringdahl-Mayland said. “We played really well. [We] held them to like one or two goals the entire time. It was against Tufts who eventually won the national championship that year, but, because we lost our first game, we couldn’t place any higher than 5th, which is what we ended up placing. This year we’d like to place higher than that, and if we win our first game, that will set us on pace to place pretty high.”

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